Notes From The Beer Cooler
Ask The Experts
10 Questions with the Brewer
Team Avery, Avery Brewing
By: Brad Hargrave
After 17 years of brewing, Avery has decided to can its beer. Why?
Ahhh the can revolution is upon us. Many craft breweries have embraced the can in the recent year. The jury is still out on whether or not this is a better vessel for your beer. But the fact that 0% light is allowed in a can versus around 10% of light being allowed into a brown bottle makes a serious mark in the cans “pro” column . Add to that, cans are easier to take on a hike into the back country or a trip down the river. They seem a natural fit at the Avery Brewing Company. Their ability to be recycled much more efficiently doesn’t hurt our karma either.
Can you tell us about Joe's Premium American Pilsner?
At Avery Brewing we’ve always been known for big, assertive beers that push brewing forward. Well this is just another step forward for us. Some of us enjoy a good brew… often. So often in fact we needed something with less ABV, something “sessionable” if you will. But it still had to be big in flavor and true to the Avery Brewing spirit. So, Joes American Pilsner was born. 42 IBU’s of German Noble Hop goodness, but with 4.7% ABV. It’s perfect to go with lunch, to mow the grass with, or after (during?) a long bike ride. Another interesting piece of trivia is Joe was Adam’s Grandfather and as the lore goes gave him his first drink of beer.
Before Joe's Pilsner and the 17th Anniversary Schwarzbier, Avery had not released many lagers. What can you tell us about the challenges of brewing Lagers vs. Ales?
Avery Brewing has been known to toss around a lager from time to time. Some of you know a little beer named the Kaiser who shows up before Oktoberfest every year (on shelves now). However at around 9% alcohol, a deep copper hue, and pungent noble hops it is easy to forget it’s a lager. At Avery Brewing, ale yeast have always been and always will be a passion due to the bigger flavor profiles they create. The art of exploration is a passion too, so sooner or later the different fermentation style and flavor profiles of lager yeast had to be explored further. Every time we start working on a new beer, be it lager or ale there are always challenges to making a perfect production size brew. For Joes American Pilsner it was about getting all those German Hops to express their aroma and character the way Adam tasted it in his head. With both ales and lagers the journey is about creating the perfect beer for us, though it is a challenging goal we’re having a hell of a good time doing it.
I think the last batch of Maharaja was your best yet. Can you tell us why that batch was different?
After much testing we have decided to purchase a centrifuge for the brewery, it will arrive around Jan 2011. The company that sells these has a nice loaner unit you can use to determine if the centrifuge is a good investment for you. We used this unit on only one production batch of beer. That was this year’s May release (Batch 12) of Maharaja. A centrifuge spins your beer very quickly and due to some basic principles of physics and some proprietary tricks this causes the solids and liquids to separate. The result is better yield (especially on dry hopped beers like Maharaja) and more character from the original ingredients making it through to your final product. That means this Maharaja tasted extra hoppy and wonderful. I also believe it to be the best tasting to date. Look forward to exciting new centrifuge work on some of our other fine beers starting next year. (Editor's Note: Maharaja is currently soldout, we'll let you know as soon as we receive the next batch).
Avery has quietly developed one of the best sour programs in the industry. Can you tell us about it?
Not in detail. To learn the true secrets of our barrels and bugs program one must come to the brewery and see the science and art for themselves. What I can tell you is this. We are currently up to around 230 barrels that began their lives holding everything from Chardonnay to rare rum. We use each of these in creating its own biosphere inside. Filling them with specially brewed worts and spiking them with our house set of wild yeasts and bacteria like lactobacillus and pediococcus. Then aging them from months to years in our barrel warehouse. The end product is like a sun set; amazing, beautiful, one of a kind, and gone before you know it. But never fear there will be another one tomorrow.
What will be the next release in this series and where can our customers buy it?
No comment. Stay with AveryBrewing.com or follow us on FaceBook for the most up to date info.
Between your IPA and Hog Heaven, Avery helped pioneer the popularity of hoppy beers in Colorado. Can you tell us a little bit about Avery's early days and how these beers became what they are today?
Some of Adam’s first brews were styles that the masses should have appreciated. Midlands Mild, Razzy Wheat, and Calypso filtered wheat should have sold off the shelves based on what craft fans were drinking in the early 90’s. Fortunately they did not. In 1996 we began to brew our flagship IPA. However, at that time it did not sell well either. People called us to have the beer picked up saying it had gone bad or that something was wrong with it. They just didn’t know what hops were, much less what they tasted like. In 1998 Adam brewed a 10%ABV, 100+IBU, dry hopped…thing (the only BA style definition that came close was Barley Wine) as a home brew and all his friends said you must sell this from the brewery. After the reaction to our IPA Adam was skeptical anyone would know what to make of it. He actually said “when pigs fly people will buy this beer” hence the artwork on the bottle and the name Hog Heaven. Long story short we couldn’t make enough of it to satisfy the demand. People went crazy for it. And an important lesson was learned. You brew what you love and believe in, not what you think other people will like and let the cards fall where they may. Every big beer at Avery Brewing from Czar to the Demons series to our barrel work owes its creation to Hog Heaven. In time peoples palates have evolved to appreciate what Adam’s did 17yrs ago. Now a days Avery IPA is our number one seller and people search out our specialty beers wherever they may be. We’re glad everyone finally got with the program.
Can you tell us about Avery's commitment to sustainability and your partnership with Eco Cycle?
The sustainability and stewardship of the home we all share is everyone’s responsibility. The Avery family and now Avery Brewing have believed this since long before it was a business savvy thing to do. Eco Cycle has been an amazing partner in helping us be able to do more of the right things, but the main message we want to convey is this, please remember you vote with your dollar. Try to support companies that actually do something to help the world around us not just companies that have a marketing campaign built around being “green”. For us to go into more detail than that seems like bragging about taking care of your kids. It’s just what you’re supposed to do.
Any other new beers in the pipeline?
There will always be new beers in the pipeline. It’s our passion and drive to create and share what we love with the world. If you want to visit the Avery Research and Development team they are available in our Tap Room at 5763 Arapahoe Ave, Boulder CO most afternoons discussing and drinking what may fill the pipeline next. As long as fans of craft brewing continue to appreciate our quest for the perfect beer we will continue to brew as much as we can, so there will be enough for everyone to enjoy.
Thanks for letting us comment on some things. A special thanks to Mile High Wine and Spirits and to everyone else that cares about Avery Brewing enough to read this and search out knowledge about us. You guys make all this fun possible.
Notes From The Beer Cooler
Ask The Experts
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